Reviews

  • "[A] remarkable book… [The Shapeless Unease is] an extraordinary journey, but it’s also mesmerising. Harvey writes with hypnotic power and poetic precision about – well, about everything: grief, pain, memory, family, the night sky, a lake at sunset, what it means to dream and what it means to suffer and survive."

    Christina Patterson, Mail on Sunday
  • "A delight to read… suffused with the sense of a timeless fable… ineffably rewarding."

    Colin Grant, Observer
  • "Samantha Harvey's dazzling, dizzying trip through the nightmare world of the sleepless...[is a] wondrous little book... a treasure trove of material… The Shapeless Unease is also one of the best books you will find about swimming. And its wonders."

    Roger Alton, Daily Mail
  • "Intricately intriguingastonishing… [The Shapeless Unease is] a particular joy. It moves between topics with ease, and yet at its heart it is an emotional book… I haven’t read a book which is quite as clear about being a writer."

    Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday
  • "The Shapeless Unease contains many beautiful and poignant passages about the human will to keep on living… [and] Harvey’s imagery casts a spell."

    Johanna Thomas-Corr, The Times
  • "What a spectacularly good book. It is so controlled and yet so WILD. One of the best books I’ve read about writing. One of the best books I’ve read about swimming. One of the best books I’ve read about mourning. And easily one of the truest and best books I’ve read about what it’s like to be alive now, in this country. "

    Max Porter
  • "How can a book about a sensual deprivation be so sensuous and so full? Gritty with particulars, concrete and substantial even when it is most philosophical and far-reaching. I loved reading it before I fell asleep every night – it seemed to give my sleep resonance and poetry. What a beautiful book."

    Tessa Hadley
  • "The Shapeless Unease captures the essence of fractious emotions – anxiety, fear, grief, rage – in prose so elegant, so luminous, it practically shines from the page. Harvey is a hugely talented writer, and this is a book to relish."

    Sarah Waters
  • "This book felt enormous to me, mercurial, devastating, seeming to grapple with the nature of everything in a manner so compelling it is impossible not to be swept along. A book to return to again and again."

    Daisy Johnson
  • "A small miracle of a book. Reading it feels like its own kind of lucid dream … You would imagine a book written in such circumstances would have a hazy quality, but in fact its clarity of expression is startling. It's a fireworks display. It's also a profound meditation on language and loss and time, and on how we construct ourselves through stories. And it's painful. And it's beautiful. And I love it. Samantha Harvey is the most exceptionally gifted of authors, and here she demonstrates that she can literally do anything."

    Nathan Filer